St. Paul’s black-owned coffee shop ridiculed when it opened is now 23 years old and changing hands

Abu Mubarik September 15, 2023
A photo of a cup of coffee. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Julius Schorzman

Mychael and Stephanie Wright founded Golden Thyme Coffee & Café which grew to become the beehive of Black culture and community activity. Founded in 2000 on the advice of Mychael’s brother, the business partners have relinquished their interest in the company.

However, the company will continue to exist under the new ownership. For 23 years, the company has grown to become a major landmark in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Twin Cities Pioneer Press reported that the beloved coffee shop has been sold to the Rondo Community Land Trust and will be expanded into a Black-owned restaurant and food vendor incubator space under the name “Golden Thyme Presents”. Businesses will be given short long-term leases under Golden Thyme Presents. With a desire to start a new chapter, the Wrights were prepared to sell, and the land trust came forward to help them do so in order to keep the business running.

“For us, it’s such a cultural gem, we couldn’t not step in to preserve it and create a plan to maintain the asset in [the] community,” said E. Coco, deputy director of the land trust. “On evenings and weekends, we already have pop-ups lined up that we’ll be discussing in the next several weeks.”

The land trust, which is the first in the state of Minnesota, seeks to restore Rondo’s Black middle-class community which was affected by the construction of Interstate 94 in the 1960s, according to Twin Cities Pioneer Press.

“When I was a young girl, Rondo was a place of Black innovation, abundance, and joy — and I am fiercely committed to rebuilding the more than 300 businesses and 700 homes that were taken from our families,” said Mikeya Griffin, executive director of the Rondo Community Land Trust. “With the leadership of people like Mychael and Stephanie Wright, we’ve made incredible gains along Selby Avenue — but it’s just the beginning.”

Twin Cities Pioneer Press reported that Rondo CLT plans to get the 934 Selby Ave. property into the hands of temporary proprietors. They will also be working on another Rondo CLT-owned property at 856 Selby Ave. They plan to build out an incubator coffee shop space with a smaller menu.

More than two decades ago when Mychael was getting ready to open the first St. Paul location for Golden Thyme Coffee & Cafe, he was ridiculed. But Golden Thyme overcame its doubters and today, it is almost 24 years old.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: September 15, 2023

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